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What does Apple want with 3-D tech company PrimeSense?

Apple has reportedly acquired the Israeli company PrimeSense in a deal worth almost $350 million. 

By Matthew Shaer / November 18, 2013

A user tries out the Kinect peripheral on an Xbox 360. The Kinect is powered by technology built by the Israeli company PrimeSense.



Apple has reportedly acquired PrimeSense, an Israeli company that builds 3-D technology. 

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According to the Israeli-based daily Calcalist, which reported the news yesterday, the deal was worth approximately $345 million. Thus far, Apple has not confirmed or denied the news; reps for PrimeSense, meanwhile, said in an interview with Reuters that they did "not comment on what any of our partners, customers or potential customers are doing and we do not relate to rumors or recycled rumors."

PrimeSense supplies hardware for a range of businesses in the industrial and entertainment sectors – among its clients is Microsoft, which uses PrimeSense technology for its motion-sensing Kinect peripheral. 

"PrimeSense 3D sensing technology gives digital devices the ability to observe a scene in three dimensions," reads copy on the company site. "It translates these observations into a synchronized image stream (depth and color) – just like humans do. It then takes those synchronized images and translates them into information. We call this depth sensing, which is made possible through the cutting-edge technology embedded in our sensors and middleware." 

So what might Apple want with PrimeSense? Well, don't get your hopes up for some sort of 3-D-capable iPhone 6. As David Shamah of ZDNet points out, Apple recently registered a patent for "3D gesture inputs" – something that could be used on television sets and tablets. 

"PrimeSense, of course, is an old hand at this," Mr. Shamah writes. "Among the features it could bring to Apple TV are the ability to change channels, volume, services etc using gestures, with a high level of sensitivity that will allow the device to distinguish between gestures aimed at the set-top box, and those that are not." 


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